Caught on camera: Hundreds of Chinese artifacts destroyed in November earthquake

BIG LAKE, Alaska (KTUU) — A family is still sifting through the damage of hundreds of Chinese artifacts that were damaged or destroyed in the Nov. 30 earthquake, piecing together their extensive collection of Chinese art and history.

Terry Gorlick estimates about $500,000 in auction value worth of irreplaceable Chinese artifacts were destroyed by the earthquake, and it was all caught on surveillance video.

"I felt like a drunken sailor, everything just bobbing and weaving and things just started to fall down," Gorlick said. "I could hear glass crashing and cases full of antiquities were smashing on the floor."

Statues, paintings, vases and more are all part of the collection of Chinese artifacts that Terry Gorlick has been collecting since he was 15 years old — some of which date back 500 years.

"In China, people spend a lifetime making small objects," Gorlick said. "Something that may have taken somebody anywhere between a month to a year to build some very small little beautiful thing. All of them were destroyed. Those items were quite unique, and they were absolutely beautiful."

Construction on the Gorlick's Big Lake home had just finished not too long before the earthquake, and the family had hoped it would serve as a museum of sorts for those interested in Chinese history. Now, they're taking it step by step, looking at more than $80,000 just in drywall repair costs alone.

"You can see where the house dropped, all the concrete dropped about four inches," Gorlick said.

However, the Gorlick's say they're mostly just thankful that they're alive and that the damage isn't worse.

"I feel we're pretty lucky," said Gorlick. "We're pretty lucky. All of ours is repairable. Some folks' homes have split in half. Ours didn't, but we'll know a little more in the spring time."

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